Abscessed Tooth In Children: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

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A tooth abscess is one of the most common oral health issues in children that require immediate attention. An abscess of the tooth is a painful bacterial infection that can spread if not treated soon. On the bright side, a tooth abscess can be treated, and even prevented if your child gets proper oral care.

MomJunction helps you know the causes of an abscessed tooth and what you should do if your child is infected.

What Is Tooth Abscess?

An abscess is a pimple-like swelling that forms when pus accumulates due to bacterial infection in that part of the body. Also known as a dental abscess, tooth abscess is an infection at the root of a tooth or between the tooth and the gum. The swelling can be very painful and sometimes unbearable for children. You need to take the child to a pediatric dentist.

An abscess can spread to other parts in the mouth like the gums and jaw, and also various parts of the body, if not treated immediately. Very rarely, an untreated tooth abscess can become life-threatening. Identifying and treating tooth and gum abscess in children at an early stage prevents the infection from spreading to the gums and other teeth.

[ Read: Tooth Decay In Children ]

Causes Of Tooth Abscess In Children

Knowing what causes tooth abscess in kids makes it easier to prevent it. A bacterial infection in the mouth is the primary reason for an abscess, a condition in which the tooth has one or more pockets of pus connected to it. The common causes of a tooth abscess in kids include:

  • Tooth decay, the primary cause of a dental abscess in children.
  • Trauma to the tooth due to an injury or fall that results in a broken or chipped tooth. It can create some extra space in the region giving room for the bacteria to accumulate.
  • Pressure on the teeth due to grinding or clenching.

While any tooth can get affected by an abscess, third molars are more commonly affected as they are difficult to clean and can decay easily, without you even noticing it.

Signs And Symptoms – How To Spot Dental Abscess:

The most visible symptom of an abscess is a red swelling inside the mouth, near a tooth or two. Look for the following signs in your kid to know if it is tooth abscess.

  • Red pimple-like formation near the tooth
  • Tooth may turn to a dark color
  • Secretion of pus from the abscess
  • Severe pain when chewing
  • Unpleasant taste in the mouth
  • Swelling of gums and cheeks, and firmness of the cheek
  • High temperature

The region around the abscess becomes very sensitive, causing severe pain when it comes in contact with a foreign object (food particles). In rare cases, there may be no pain associated with an abscessed tooth, which has lost its ability to respond to pain.

Diagnosis Of Tooth Abscess

Dental abscesses can be serious and should be treated immediately after diagnosis. If you find any of the signs mentioned above in your child, take him to a dentist immediately.

Dentists usually do the following to detect tooth abscess in children:

  • Tapping on the teeth, gently, to see how sensitive it is.
  • X-ray in case the abscess is not obvious.
  • CT Scan in case the infection has spread or is suspected to have spread to other parts of the face and the neck.

[ Read: Jaw Pain In Children ]

Treating An Abscessed Tooth In Child

The treatment for an abscess in a child’s mouth depends on the severity of the condition and the region it has formed.

  • In case the abscess is in the initial stages, the dentist may drain the pus out by making an incision in the abscess and cleaning it with saline or salt water.
  • If the tooth is completely damaged, the dentist may pull it out to prevent the infection from spreading.
  • In some cases, the consultant may perform a root canal to treat the infected tooth and save it from being completely damaged.

During this process, a dentist would first create a vacuum in the tooth and drain the pus out before sealing it with pulp. If it is a molar tooth, a crown may be used to make the tooth stronger.

  • In addition to the procedures mentioned above, dentists may also prescribe antibiotics if the infection has spread to other parts or is severe.

Home Remedies To Relieve Tooth Abscess Pain

While there aren’t any home remedies to treat tooth abscess, there are a few things you can do to relieve your child of the pain caused by the condition. Here are a few home remedies that can reduce the pain:

  • Put an ice pack on the area for 12 to 20 minutes, or as recommended by the dentist.
  • Garlic has anti-inflammatory properties and can fight infection. If your child does not want to chew garlic, crush it and apply the juice on the infected area.
  • Clove oil, peppermint oil, and oregano oil have antiseptic and anti-fungal properties that can reduce inflammation and remove the infection. Brushing with clove oil can help.
  • Rinsing the mouth with warm salt water can also prevent the infection from spreading.
  • Boil some water with a spoonful of sesame seeds in it. Use a cotton ball to apply the boiled water to the infected area in the mouth. You can repeat this twice or thrice a day to alleviate the pain.
  • Mix a spoonful of apple cider vinegar to a glass of warm water and rinse the mouth. Make sure your kid does not swallow the liquid.
  • Olive oil has eugenol, a chemical that can kill bacteria and eliminate the infection.

There are a few more home remedies for tooth abscess like oil-pulling, use of papaya slices and plantain leaves, which are more appropriate for adults than for kids.

Care To Be Taken For Tooth and Gum Abscess In Children

Here are a few things you should keep in mind to help your child recover from it soon.

  • Ensure that any prescribed medications are taken on time and without fail.
  • Do not miss or change dentist appointments as the treatment may follow a specific course and any deviation may affect the time taken for recovery.
  • If no medication is prescribed, check with the doctor if you can give the child an over-the-counter medication.

Medical treatment for dental abscesses works when parents follow it up with proper care at home.

[ Read: Dental Care For Kids ]

Prevention Of Dental Abscess In Children:

If your child has a healthy set of teeth, you are lucky. You can maintain that by being conscious about his oral health.

Here are a few things every parent should keep in mind to reduce the risk of teeth or gum abscesses in children.

  • The key to preventing dental or gum-related problems is to maintain proper oral hygiene. Ensure that your kids brush their teeth at least twice a day and floss once.
  • Cut down the amount of sugary foods like sweets, chocolates, and sodas that your child consumes.
  • Get your children to use toothpaste with fluoride at least once a day. But before that, check with your dentist.
  • Address any trauma to the teeth, like damage or chipping, immediately by visiting a dentist.
  • Take them to the dentist regularly.

In painful conditions like tooth abscess in children, prevention is any day better than cure.

Frequently Asked Questions About Tooth Abscess

1. My child has an abscessed tooth. What should I do?

If your child is experiencing symptoms that indicate an abscess of the tooth or the gums, take him to a dentist immediately. A tooth abscess cannot be treated with home remedies, and can get worse if proper medical treatment is not given early on.

2. What is a dentoalveolar abscess in children?

A dentoalveolar abscess is another name for a tooth abscess.

3. What is a periodontal abscess in children?

A periodontal abscess is a type of a dental abscess within the periodontium, which is a specialized tissue that supports the tooth.

4. What is a gingival abscess in children?

A gingival abscess is a type of an oral abscess that affects only the gum tissue, without causing any damage to the tooth or the periodontium.

[ Read: Chipped Tooth In Children ]

5. What does an abscessed tooth look like?

An abscessed tooth may be darker in color when compared to the other teeth around it. A tooth abscess is pink and swollen like a pimple.

Unlike other medical conditions and infections that are outwardly visible, dental or tooth abscess is not. Therefore it is important to be observant for any possible swelling and check the kid’s mouth for signs of an abscess and address it immediately.

Share your thoughts and experiences, if any, about tooth abscesses through the comments section below.

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Sagari Gongala

Sagari is a math graduate and studied counseling psychology in postgraduate college, which she uses to understand people better. This skill also helps her write better articles about kids and their behavior. She is meticulous in her research and gives you information that could be the ultimate help you’ll need in times of need. An animal lover, vegan, and coffee addict, Sagari puts her mind and soul into whatever she does. During her free time, you'll find her either rescuing a sick/injured animal with a friend, or glued to her couch watching Sons Of Anarchy on Netflix.
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